A Non-partisan Political Commentary for Those Who Prefer To Think for Themselves
Saturday, August 19, 2017
The First Salvos Of America's Next Civil War: Is Charlottesville the New Fort Sumter?
There's an old expression I'm rather fond of. It goes like this, "history doesn't repeat, but it often rhymes". What's happening in America right now seems to bear that out if we look back at history. For instance, many people like to compare America with ancient Rome, and there's something to it. Rome started off as a small trading community, dominated by the powerful and still mysterious Etruscans. In time, Rome obtained its freedom and continued to grow, eventually incorporating other smaller, and sometimes larger communities until it reached the point where even Etrusca couldn't contain them, and it too finally succumbed to the might of Rome. During this time period, Rome went from being a vassal to kingship, and eventually to a republic. Ultimately, the republic became corrupt and bloated. Its system of government failed; it seems that only the wealthy or those with access to those with wealth had any influence. Rome became an oligarchy; a plutocracy with power concentrated in the hands of a few very wealthy and powerful families.
During the latter half of the late republic, there were several peasant and slave uprisings, including the most famous of all thanks mainly to Hollywood. I'm talking about the Third Servile War, or as we now know it, the Spartacus Revolt. Spartacus was most likely Thracian and a possible son of a local Thracian chieftain. He appears to have fought in one of Rome numerous auxiliary units. Historically, this was an excellent career option for a non-Roman, however, something happened. Historians aren't sure what, but Spartacus was branded a criminal and instead of being killed outright or put in chains as a rower on some Roman galley or put to hard labor in some far off mine with the prospects of a very short life. Instead, he was made a gladiator. Although his prospects weren't much better, he at least had the possibility of earning his freedom. He chose rebellion instead, and so with 70 fellow gladiators, he challenged the might of Rome while building a small army along the way. Of course, he eventually lost, but in the doing so, became a legend for all time.
Rome's republic fell shortly afterward. The result of a popular strongman by the name of Gaius Julius Caesar. Caesar led a civil war against the corrupt republican oligarchy, and won. However, he didn't hold power long. He was soon assassinated, and a second civil war ensued. This time led by those who wished to reinstall the old republic and those who wanted to create a new government where merit define who would rise, not family ties. This faction was led by Caesar's great nephew, Octavius; better known to us a Augustus Caesar. Augustus won, and a new republic was established, led by a strongman in what would increasingly become a military dictatorship. This was how Rome would be run until the fall of Constantinople in the 1461; conquered by Ottoman Muslims. It keep the peace internally by offering citizens "bread and circuses"; that is, it encouraged entertainment and ensured there would be ample food to keep its citizens from growing hungry. They knew that if the bellies of the peasants didn't grumble and they were sufficiently distracted, the people would ignore much of the corruption.
However, Rome fell in the truest sense long before the Ottomans. It produced weak, ineffective leaders, corruption returned with a vengeance with factions creating divided camps, a crumbling infrastructure, and the Empire was constantly overrun by those seeking to either attack cities or those seeking protection, land, and opportunity. All this was occasionally interspersed with individuals of brilliance and some impressive engineering technology. Meanwhile, others could obtain status through enrollment in Rome's military. Others entered enmasse, albeit illegally, taking jobs wherever they could find them, but always with their handout. In time, Rome became a mere shadow of its former glory, though its military remained strong until near the end.
Does any of this sound familiar to you? It should. America, as most of you know, forfeited its democratic republic by ignoring what was happening in Washington and in our state capitals. We have since become an Oligarchy; a plutocracy, while we were distracted with video games, sports, celebrity gossip, and so forth. The government is now just a partnership between the corporations, wealthy elites, and the political mechanisms of government. We, the People, are continually distracted by manufactured events designed to pit us against each other and to keep our eyes diverted from what's really happening. Just a few weeks ago, we were focused on North Korea's "imminent" nuclear attack on the island of Guam. Before that, it was on Russia's (alleged) involvement in Trump's campaign, issues with the FBI director, or Hillary's treasonous acts involving unsecured servers, but then there was the rigging of the Democratic Primary, and then its convention, illegal immigration, Benghazi, cops on a murder spree against blacks, and so on and so on. Of course, if you prefer something else, they can serve up all sorts of scandal on Trump's new administration, about who's leaving, secret backroom deals, someone leaking this or that "earth shattering" morsel of gossip.
Right now, the latest distraction is over historical statues, neo-Nazis, fascists, Antifa (which ironically stands for "Anti Fascist"), Communists and Socialist wannabes, BLM, the police, racism, gender identification, white apologists, and so forth. The most recent round began in Charlottesville, Virginia over a statue of a Confederate General. However, there was several run ups to this with North Carolina removing the Confederate battle flag from the state capital, Louisville Kentucky removing a memorial to Confederate war dead, the removal of the bodies of Confederate General Nathan B Forrest and his family from a public cemetery, removing all Confederate markers in public cemeteries, banning the sale of any Confederate items at public museums, parks, etc. Now, demands are being made to remove all statues and memorials that relate to anyone or anything associated with the Confederacy; a final humiliating act of Reconstruction....albeit over a century late. But we're not done yet.
No, we're not done yet by a long shot. These same groups---Antifa, Communists and Socialists wannabes, BLM, and white apologists, are protesting for the removal of statues of our Founding Fathers (if they owned slaves or for simply being white) as well as other notables such as Supreme Court Justice Rodger Taney, whose vote upheld Dredd Scott, keeping slavery legal. Some of the statues are being vandalized and destroyed illegally (and a few, like one of Lincoln, was damaged apparently by someone who was history illiterate). There are also demands to defund the memorials of Thomas Jefferson and closing down all public support for his residence, as well as that of Washington, Andrew Jackson, U.S. Grant (yes, a Union general and President, but one whose family owned slaves), and the rest. Gone too will be Henry Clay's home and that of John C. Calhoun. They want the names of all schools that bear the name of these individuals removed and renamed. Plus they want to change all streets and highways which bear their names erased too. We can add
to our list of national debasement, the destruction of Mount Rushmore and Georgia's famous Stone Mountain.
On the other side of the political coin, are a mixture of conservatives of various stripes such as Constitutionalists, Republicans, Centrists/Moderates, Libertarians, not to mention far Right supporters or as they're sometimes called, Alt-Right, which include neo-Nazis, Fascists, Uber Conservative Christians, Confederate supporters, and even the KKK (as an aside, I'm becoming a bit annoyed with those on the Right claiming that the Nazis and/or Fascists were actually Left Wing or Liberals. They weren't, so stop it. You're embarrassing yourselves). The majority of these are pro-Trump supporters and they want to keep the statues, memorials, funding and names. At the "free speech" rally and support for a Confederate statue in Charlottesville recently, some of the neo-Nazis and KKK types showed up in full regalia, including former Grand Dragon David Duke. As a result, the corporate media has tried to own this story by labeling these neo-Nazis, "White Nationalist" or "White Supremacist" marches. The Conservatives had a permit to gather, the Left did not. Ultimately a violent fray broke out. The Charlottesville Police were order to stand down by the Democrat mayor. Later, after State Police showed up on orders from the Governor, the Conservatives (the ones with the legal permit) were chased off by the troopers. The same story seems to be reported across the country with the corporate media repeating the label they've assigned to it, a neo-Nazi and/or Fascist, or Trump Supporters event. Note how the repeated use of these terms, while ignoring the Left's role--- Democrats, BLM, Communists or Antifa---creates a certain impression in your mind. Now imagine what it does after being repeated thousands of times daily. As an aside, the Left has consistently outnumbered the Right at these events.
We also should forget that a few are calling for a national apology from all whites, Asians, Hispanics, and, I suppose, Native Americans for their part in slavery (not sure how it would work with Native Americans since sometimes they owned slaves of all races and sometimes they were the slaves of all races) plus they want financial compensation (you can always be sure that money is there somewhere). I'm not sure how they'll do this. Mail out a prewritten apology to be signed and returned? Who pays for the postage? Maybe the "guilty parties" should forfeit a portion of their income tax? Western Kentucky University is waving tuition costs. I'm not sure if that's for all blacks or those who can prove they had an ancestor who was a slave. If that's a case, can that apply to descendants of Scots, Irish, Native Americans, or even Germans who were slaves? What about blacks who owned slaves? There was a lot of them you know. How does that play out? What about those whose ancestors owned slaves but fought for the Union---especially if they were wounded or killed? Do they get a break? What about those who fought for the South but didn't own a slaves? That could be a problem since only 4% of the entire South owned any slaves at all---the average was three. Just 2% owned more than ten slaves. Finally, what about those of us whose ancestors were elsewhere---Europe, Asia, Latin America, Pacific Islands---while all this was going on? Surely they deserve a break.
I want to touch on another related topic. Dishonoring America and Americans, as well as those who've fought, died or been injured in the defense of this country, plus the first responders who protect us every day. Last year, several so-called "professional" football players refused to stand for the playing of the National Anthem. The fans booed these individuals and many stopped attending their games or buying their merchandise. It cost the NFL millions. Worse, young adults in college as well as those in high school mimicked the behavior with little or no idea as to what the gesture meant. They just knew that their football idols were doing it and it would get them some attention. Unfortunately, many team owners took the cowards way out and did nothing. Now, it looks like the "middle finger to America" is back, with at least one black player demanding that white players join him in disrespecting this country. It sounds like they're trying to cover their butts by getting white players involved.
If these individuals want to express their hatred of America, or the military, its veterans, as well as first responders, I have no problem with that. However, while they wear their team's uniform, they represent the team. Therefore, their actions reflect the other team members, the coaches, managers, owners, and even the sponsors. What they do on their own time is their business and I encourage them to take advantage of that opportunity. But wearing the team's uniform and standing in a stadium where ordinary people shelled out a lot of money to watch a football game, not watch these player's express their political opinion---especially when it's a big ole "F*ck You America while I make more money in a year than you'll see in a lifetime".
The removal of these memorials, monuments, and so forth as I mentioned above, is a dramatic slap in the face of every American, dead or living. It's more than just trying to erase or rewrite our collective history. Its message is that we no longer value the lessons of our history. We no longer accept that our differences, even in politics, has made us stronger as a nation. These actions by a tiny few merely reflect the weak kneed response of administrators, university presidents and board members, as well as politicians. In recent years, males in this country have been conditioned to be more feminine. We now get to pick a gender preference the way some of us pick peaches. We are suppose to be kinder and more supportive; have "safe places" away from people who call you names or whose opinions disagree with yours. For that matter, speakers get jeered, threatened, or attacked if their point of view isn't Left enough. What happened to respect or common courtesy? Hell, what happened to the First Amendment? We've continually dumbed down our education system to create a nation of compliant employees in exchange for everyone getting to pee in the same restroom, a safe place to quiver with your safety blanky, a self-anointed refusal to extend freedom to speech and expression to others. Oh joy.
Yes, we have problems as a nation, but it isn't just these. It's a failed government who proclaim victory is their approval ratings break 18%! It's a Wallstreet-Capital Hill partnership which uses our military to back up threats about who controls what resources or assets. It's about improving our education system so that the average high school graduate's functional academic level exceeds the 8th grade and who has developed little or no critical thinking skills. It's about repairing a crumbling infrastructure, tax reform, prison reform, reevaluating drug laws, and many more. Let's not forget that 96% of all media is owned by just six corporations, each of whom have a political agenda which is remarkable the same---to keep us confused, frustrated, and divided. As such, they control the message; manufacturing names, events, and spin. Finally, I won't apologize for being white...or male... or straight...or for what my ancestors may or may not have done over a century and half ago.
I am an American and as independent as they come. I have no tolerance for bigotry or hatred on any side. I truly don't care what your race is, or your sexual preference, or your religion, or anything else. If you show me respect, I will return the act in the same measure. If you act like an ass, I will treat you like ass. Unless you're some type of worm, you are born a male or female. That means you are either Y-DNA or mt-DNA dominant. I will not change the use of my appropriate pronouns until I'm personally shown a hermaphrodite human, and then I will change it accordingly. Language. Unless you're just visiting, try to have at least a general conversational knowledge of the native language. In this case, that would be English. I don't care what you believe or don't believe. I do, however, care if you try to impose that belief on someone else with the use of threats or violence. As for your political beliefs, I have no issue so long as you give others the same opportunity.
Lastly, I have a low tolerance for ignorance, especially willful ignorance. What do I mean? I mean the intentional refusal to use reasonably proper grammar (don't "ax" me either), to dressing yourself properly (I have no interest in seeing your underwear or your bare bottom), refusing to speak our language despite being here for decades, or simply a refusal to learn from your mistakes; to accept the facts and modified your position accordingly. Lastly, try learning actual history before you set out to rewrite it or destroy its monuments before you end up burning books, or worse.